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Rafe Champion guest post. The real cost of firming intermittent power in the grid

The real cost of backing up the intermittent provision of wind and solar power has been spelled out in a comprehensive model that has achieved virtually no coverage in the public discussion of energy issues. This is a scandalous situation that reflects the ignorance and virtually criminal negligence of the journalists and commentators of the nation. This is a short version of the report.

According to all the people who are supposed to know about these things the road to net zero is clear and the days of the coal power are numbered because wind and solar power are so much cheaper. How much cheaper? Well the inputs of wind and sunbeams come free of charge, so how much cheaper can you get!

The CSIRO GenCost study is regarded as the last word on the matter and who can challenge the authority of the CSIRO? It is disappointing to find that the study is full of holes and dubious assumptions. The biggest hole of all is the failure to account for the full cost of firming the intermittent inputs. This is currently provided by the much maligned coalers and it comes free of charge to the wind and solar industries. See here for the frog and centipede relationship between conventional power and the predatory parasites of the RE industry.

In November 2020 a group of consultants tabled a report in the NSW Parliament with the results of some elaborate modelling work to generate the total System Levelised Cost of Energy (SLCOE) which is defined as — “…the average cost of producing electric energy from the combination of generation technologies chosen for the system over its entire lifetime”

The models include additional transmission costs for various options including replacing brown coal with nuclear energy, replacing coal with gas and 100% RE with hydro and storage.

SUMMARY OF RESULTS

The best policy option to control costs and minimise emissions would appear to be to replace coal generation with nuclear power.

Case 1. This is the current situation, with over 70% of power generated by coal the estimated cost is $68.87/MWh.

Case 2 shows the effect of introducing 3,000 MW of nuclear power capacity into the Case 1 mix to replace brown coal. This raises the cost to $72.48/MWh while reducing emissions by around 23%.

Case 3 shows the effect of replacing all coal in Case 1 with nuclear power. Emissions fall by some 93%, with the cost increasing to $90.23/MWh.

Case 4 shows the effect of the combination of generation technologies projected by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to 2040, as shown in its Integrated System Plan (ISP) of July 2018. The cost is in the order of $250/MWh.

Case 5 shows the effect of replacing all coal in Case 1 with CCGT. This shows an increase in cost to approach $100/MWh.

Case 6 shows a 100% renewable mix comprising solar PV, wind and hydro with support from pumped storage and some battery storage. Because of low capacity factors, solar PV and wind require a combined total of 110,000 MW of capacity.T here is also a need for 30,000 MW of pumped storage capacity for 3 days. To this must be added high-cost additional transmission to get the power to points of high consumption where it is needed, making a total SLCOE of $415.50 I MWh.

Supporting information. All key technology performance data, costs, and other relevant information are listed at the Power System Generation Mix Model website.

A short report in PDF form.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION & COMMENTS FROM THE AUTHORS

1. Wind-up subsidies for intermittent power generation
2. Add a capacity market component to the National Electricity Market
The current NEM is an energy-only market, which does not give clear signals when more or replacement dispatchable generation investment is needed. This weakness has been a key factor in the current absence of new dispatchable investment, i.e. power which can be delivered at the time it is needed by customers.

3. Remove the ban on nuclear power
This ban is the result of a political deal done 20 years ago. It has no scientific merit and is now an obstacle to much-needed decisions for the longer-term future. It prohibits by law the development of emissions-free, reliable, affordable nuclear power for Australia. The removal of the ban would allow more competition between various technologies to supply our future electricity needs.

9.8 out of 10 based on 56 ratings

99 comments to Rafe Champion guest post. The real cost of firming intermittent power in the grid

  • #
    Kim

    A challenge to the Warmies: Create a town that is 100% fully off grid – off grid electricity generation via solar and wind, all electric vehicles, no external power, off grid water, off grid sewerage and off grid rubbish disposal. Completely self contained. Complying 100% with your ‘renewable’ and ‘sustainable’ criteria. Implement it and let’s have it running with plenty of publicity – let’s see how it goes. Show us how it’s done.

    580

    • #
      b.nice

      And no hidden diesel back-up !

      380

    • #
      b.nice

      They could set it up near the SA battery, such a safe place to live. 😉

      160

    • #
      David Maddison

      Another challenge to warmist leaders:

      Don’t fly your private jets to the next climate conference or anywhere else for that matter.

      200

    • #

      Also, have them grow their own organic food with no use of man made fertilisers. Only composting, chicken manure and other shite allowed.

      90

      • #
        Ronin

        “Also, have them grow their own organic food with no use of man made fertilisers. Only composting, chicken manure and other shite allowed.”

        Because that worked so well for Sri Lanka.

        00

    • #
      Robdel

      Cordon off a part of Canberra. It is tje prrfect site for such an experiment

      60

      • #
        Ronin

        Cordon off ALL of Canberra, it’s the perfect site for such an experiment.
        There, fixed it for you, no thanks necessary.

        70

    • #
      Pauly

      These locations almost exist already: Lord Howe Island, many towns in the NT, and several private grids run by mining companies.

      Unfortunately, those that are 100% renewables also come with regular black outs. The rest use government subsidies to reduce their overall costs, mostly by reducing the amount of fuel they have to truck or ship in for their diesel generators, a significant saving for the locals, as long as the government picks up the majority of the capital costs of renewables.

      The limitation for most is that they only represent residential loads. The challenge is to have renewable grids that can support industry loads and urban 24/7 baseload power – for hospitals, street lighting, traffic signals, data centres, internet services, airports, sea ports, train networks, etc.

      80

    • #
      Honk R Smith

      “A challenge to the Warmies: Create a town that is 100% fully off grid”

      You might as well ask them, “what is a woman?”.

      30

    • #
      PADRE

      The iniquity and stupidity of the war on plant food is demonstrated by the fact that hundreds of millions of people on the planet have no electricity, no running water and no proper sanitation. They cook over dung or sticks. They are prevented from having reliable, cheap electricity thanks to the disgusting ideology espoused by the World Bank and others.
      Equally stupid and iniquitous is the wilful ignorance of politicians and so-called scientists who refuse even to listen those who are able to explain the physical behaviour of the atmosphere based on geology, physics and history.

      10

  • #
    David Webb

    What’s the details of the ban on nuclear energy in Australia? Can anyone fill me in? TIA

    40

    • #
      David Maddison

      If you are looking for a logical reason, there isn’t any.

      Australia does maintain a small research reactor for research and production of medical isotopes. It was the HIFAR reactor since 1958, replaced by OPAL in 2007. The ignorant are even opposed to that.

      And there are also a number of medical cyclotrons for production of medical isotopes. The ignorant are not opposed to the cyclotrons because they don’t know what they are or that they exist.

      Of course, neither of those are to do with energy production.

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    • #
      Ronin

      “What’s the details of the ban on nuclear energy in Australia? Can anyone fill me in? TIA”

      Mainly fear borne of ignorance by the green left socialists.

      90

  • #
    Neville

    Rafe I prefer to listen to our then Chief Scientist Dr Finkel….. and he admitted ( under oath to a Senate inquiry) that if we cut ALL AUSSIE co2 EMISSIONs the result for our climate would be NOTHING.
    So why waste our time and endless billions $ for ZERO impact on our climate or temperature FOREVER?
    But we would also have a terrible TOXIC future FOREVER both below and above the ground.
    And also an incredibly fragile electricity grid forever and at an horrendous cost and all for NOTHING. When will we WAKE UP?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJY8xKknpms

    160

    • #
      Robert Swan

      Neville,

      if we cut ALL AUSSIE co2 EMISSIONs the result for our climate would be NOTHING.

      On a related note, the ABC was recently telling us that if we closed down Eraring Power Station, Australia’s CO2 output would be reduced by more than New Zealand’s entire emissions. I have my doubts on that but, assuming it’s true, why wouldn’t NZ’s most sensible way to “do its duty” be to buy Eraring Power Station and close it down?

      It might take a bit more work, but Australia could probably find a fair number of foreign companies to buy out and shut down to offset its entire CO2 emissions too. What better way to keep the Third World in third place?

      40

    • #
      Ronin

      It’s all about the look, the example set to the turd world, it’s our “duty” apparently to lead the way, show the flag and all that.

      20

  • #
    Neville

    AGAIN here’s the CSIRO quote about the NH as a net SOURCE of co2 and the SH is a net SINK. See under Seasonal variation. The NH has about 7.1 billion people and the SH has about 0.8 billion or 800 million people.
    “Seasonal variation”

    “Carbon dioxide concentrations show seasonal variations (annual cycles) that vary according to global location and altitude. Several processes contribute to carbon dioxide annual cycles: for example, uptake and release of carbon dioxide by terrestrial plants and the oceans, and the transport of carbon dioxide around the globe from source regions (the Northern Hemisphere is a net source of carbon dioxide, the Southern Hemisphere a net sink)”.

    https://www.csiro.au/greenhousegases/

    90

  • #
    Honk R Smith

    “According to all the people who are supposed to know about these things the road to net zero is clear and the days of the coal power are numbered because wind and solar power are so much cheaper.”

    We are the ones that don’t know what is happening.
    They know perfectly well.
    This is a masterfully created a quasi religious conflict.
    They don’t care about the cost or whether solar and wind will work.
    We are like samurai unable to face the end of the katana.
    Science and engineering were honorable debates.
    Those days have passed.
    With the wielding of the Pandemic super weapon, Fauci, Dan, WHO, CDC, TGA, IPCC, UN/EU, WEF, and countless NGOs have delivered the final blow to the era of enlightened public science as we knew it.

    130

  • #

    Lack of a capacity market was the primary cause of the Texas (ERCOT) blackout disaster.

    In case 6 I do not understand having just 3 days of storage. Does Oz not get protracted cloudy low wind periods?

    100

    • #

      I can believe that in the 100% RE case 6 the price of electricity is 6 times today’s price. Ruinous. But if they did not include electrification of transport and gas burning then the number should be more like double or triple that much.

      140

      • #
        Rafe Champion

        Thanks David, I think this was a preliminary study to get the feel of the situation, as far as I know they had no significant funding and the work was done on the side of their commercial consultancy, essentially as community service. I appreciate that storage has to be provided for weeks rather than days to accommodate a series of bad days and the numbers soon become astronomical, like the cost of batteries.

        I would like to talk to them about the work and find out how much they are following overseas work on storage but I could not locate them until quite recently a colleague got in touch with one of the lead authors.

        140

        • #

          Rafe I read Electric Power Consulting’s National electricity Market (NEM) Model – 2018 which seems to be the same as yours. I was very impressed with their methodology and conclusions and thought it would have been adopted as a baseline model for the the NEM development. Instead we are subjected to never ending RE sales promotion nonsense which is supposed to be a substitute for this professional study.

          IMHO the key conclusion is still the same as in 2018 which is to add a capacity market to the NEM. The current NEM is an energy only market, which does not give clear signals when more or replacement dispatchable generation investment is needed. This weakness has been the key factor in the current absence of new dispatchable investment, i.e. power that can be delivered at the time it is needed by customers.

          20

    • #

      Exactly David.
      Any study of weather patterns shows periods, several times a year, of up to over a week where we have large areas under cloud with minimal wind. And with far lower RE generation. I would have thought that one needed at least 5-6 days storage.

      The other thing missing here is that many private organisations will need to install their own backup generators (the factory I ran in PNG had these due to the unreliability of their grid) and this will be yet another cost which is hidden, but which will show up in the price of rents, goods etc. Cynically it may be that these generators turn out to be far cheaper than the enormous grid prices and many large users will exit the grid and self generate.

      90

      • #
        Graeme No.3

        Don’t mention hospitals, and supermarkets in South Australia. One manager at a local supermarket (and far from a big city size) pointed out that one blackout meant they had to dump $10,000 of frozen goods, so you could run the generator for many hours ad save money.

        60

      • #
        Mike+Jonas

        I would have thought that one needed at least 5-6 days storage.“.

        Bad thinking. You can’t go for the lowest possible number of days, you have to go for the highest possible number of days. The reason is that at the moment the limit is reached everything stops, and everything stays stopped until the generation starts again. That’s no way to run the place.

        A more reasonably realistic estimate of the storage needed would be 6 months, not 6 days. And there’s still no guarantee that it would be enough.

        Why even embark on this problematic path, when units that can both use stockpiled fuel and back up each other could be used instead – coal and nuclear, for example. Or even gas.

        20

    • #
      David Maddison

      Does Oz not get protracted cloudy low wind periods?

      No.

      This is Australia, where the sun always shines and the wind always blows…

      30

    • #
      JohnS

      Nobody ever mentions how much extra capacity needs to be built in order to charge the backup so that it’s ready before the wind stops blowing again.

      10

  • #

    Unfortunately Jo we have clear evidence with covid of the response that will occur here.

    There has never been any justification for lockdowns, quite the reverse. Ditto masking and with vaxxing a proper objective assessment with proper risk management would only have ever suggested initially that the most vulnerable only be vaxxed. Data since that time has consistently shown that in reality the supposed efficacy collapsed quickly or was non existent, that the severe adverse reactions and deaths (hopelessly under reported and hidden) were enough to stop the program, and that myocarditis & the host of other impacts were a huge issue. And we have no idea of the long term impacts on health, fertility etc. But despite this we have a reckless push to vaxx all, we had mandates implemented when it was clear the vaxxes promoted infection.

    But at every turn the govt and Left have, when presented with the utter failure of their policies on covid, doubled down and pushed harder.

    Expect the same with RE. Facts, engineering and reality mean nothing here, only adherence to the RE religion and political correctness. In the face of grid collapse it will be explained that this is because we do not have enough RE, that we continue to be reliant on fossil fuels etc.

    Be prepared for a terrible few decades. But the silver lining is that the brain dead activists & pollies will completely poison the Australian peoples opinion of politicians and carpet bagger activists, and we will return to a world governed by reality and the awful examples of RE and covid will be text book examples for generations of what not to do, and how bad it can get when the world eschews logic and reality and follows Leftist ideology.

    110

    • #
      David Maddison

      Katie Hopkins just released a short 2 min video https://youtu.be/tUAVO0Lrfow discussing her shocking realisation that many of the Sheeple actually want a return to the lockdowns and being told what to do and what to think.

      The dumbing-down, engineered by the Left over the last 50-60 years has been complete.

      Sadly, I think we have little hope.

      100

      • #

        Sadly Dave it appears that the decades of education as indoctrination, rather than teaching how to think, are coming home to roost.

        Since the 1980s I have been following the greenhouse effect, global warming, climate change caravan and any logical review suggests its a complete sham. Go beyond the “renew economy” and such like websites and its clear its no issue. But nearly all believe the opposite.

        With covid its even clearer as the catastrophic predictions made by Norman Swann, Neil Ferguson et al failed to materialise and any fool can see that the vaxxed are all coming down with the virus they were immunised against. But no, bring on the lockdowns, rush for the boosters etc

        The complete inability to think clearly seems entrenched.

        [Caught in the spam filter]

        10

      • #
        yarpos

        At a lunch with 20 people last week we got stuck next to a bunch of vax fans all talking proudly about being on there 3rd or 4th booster. One lady was talking earnestly about there being 60k “cases” in Victoria and how she wished mask mandates would be introduced.

        60k is about 1% of the VIC population. She had no sense of how many people were hospital level sick. She chose not to wear a mask herself or complain that the wait staff didnt either (masks for wait staff are supposed to be worn, but many regional places are over it)

        So yes there are people yearn for control.

        70

      • #
        Giles Playfair

        “…many of the Sheeple actually want a return to the lockdowns…”

        Roger Scruton in his book “The Soul of the World” (I think it was this book) suggests that freedom is too unnatural for us. Having to make your own decisions and accept responsibility for them is hard, so we have a desire to give ourselves over completely to someone or something. It might be a loving partner or a dictator or whatever.

        10

    • #
      Mike+Jonas

      “a terrible few decades”?????

      The Dark Ages lasted for several centuries. Today’s elites are already preparing for a new Dark Age by writing the old one out of existence (“The majority of modern scholars avoid the term altogether due to its negative connotations” – https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Ages_(historiography) )

      There is no limit to how long the new Dark Age could last. Best that we do everything we can to prevent it starting.

      30

  • #
    OldOzzie

    The Cost of New Energy in Europe, but Not in Money

    As Europe turns from its masochistic energy dependence on Russia, and the potential blackmail that came with it, will it now fall into the open arms of other dictatorships that stand ready to pump gas into its markets, such as such as Algeria? Even more dangerous might be a new partnership formed between Germany and Qatar. They have just agreed on a huge long-term energy partnership to reduce dependence on Russian gas, according to German Economy Minister Robert Habeck, who last month visited the Persian Gulf and met with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. Italy was the first to negotiate with Qatar, a country that, according to Freedom House, numbers 25 out of 100 on its the freedom score, only slightly above Russia, at 19.

    Qatar is now saying that it stands “in solidarity” with Europe.

    Solidarity?

    Russian gas is not free; Qatari gas as well.

    40

  • #
    David Maddison

    Nuclear power is wonderful but we on the rational side of science shouldn’t promote it because it has no “carbon” emissions, similarly for HELE coal plant which has fewer emissions.

    That just reinforces the misconception that anthropogenic “carbon” emissions cause “global warming”.

    Excuse me saying “carbon”. Warmists have never worked out the distinction between coal and its oxidized state, I’m just using their language so if they are reading this they’ll understand.

    The ONLY reason we should support either of those technologies is because of economic reasons.

    HELE plant because it uses less fuel. In fact HELE has built into its name “low emissions” and just reinforces the misconception. They should be just called “(ultra)supercritical coal plant” referring to the supercritical state of the working fluid, i.e. above 221 bar for “steam” (e.g. typically around 300 bar and 600C).

    and

    nuclear because it may be more economical than coal plant in a certain geographical location, or cause less environmental impact in terms of open cut coal mines and/or coal delivery infrastructure such as endless trains delivering coal. Nuclear plant can also be (ultra)supercritical for greater thermodynamic efficiency.

    130

    • #
      Ross

      Correct, call them HE plants. Also, forget nuclear for Australia, we’re are just too far behind other countries. With our dopey politicians and bureaucrats both at fed and state level nothing would get done for 20 years, be vastly over budget and probably out of date when operational. Think navy subs and translate that to nuclear power plants. We have 500 years of coal reserves in this country. It’s a natural blessing, like our climate. Let’s take the most advantage of it.

      140

  • #

    So, whatever happened with the presentation of the Report to the NSW Parliament in November 2020? Put on the shelf just like a Royal Commission Report? Did the NSW Taxpayer pay for the Report to be prepared and if so how much did it cost to prepare? I have so many questions………………….

    70

    • #
      Dennis

      The old saying: oh what a tangled web they weave when first they practise to deceive.

      Australia’s problems relating to electricity supply, manufacturing industry decline and a whole lot more is a tangled web of mostly United Nations based agenda adopted by Federal and State governments here spanning back to post-WW2 when the UN was established and adopted the plan put forward by Australian Labor (Communist faction) Attorney General Evatt that UN member nations be encouraged to sign as many treaties and agreements as could be created by the UN. The purpose was to get around member nation constitutions and constitutional laws by UN friendly governments. Two that come to mind are: 1975 UN Lima Protocol/Agreement to encourage most manufacturing industry businesses to move offshore and manufacture in UN designated developing nations, like China. The second is UN Agenda 21 (now Agenda 30) – Sustainability which covers many areas and even National Parks where dams, logging, mining and more is banned locking up vast reserves, one example, of shale oil deposits. What Agenda 21 covers is too extensive to post here.

      Then consider the Federal and State legislation that supports the UN treaties and agreements, and Local Government regulations, a mass of red and green tape with compliance costs adding to the operating expenses for businesses.

      Next but there is more is our Federation of States that have more internal powers and areas of responsibility than the Commonwealth of Australia’s Federal Government formed by the Colonial Governments when they reached agreement on Federation. And then consider the changes of political parties influencing all three levels of government, and in State and Federal legislative assemblies (lower house) and Senate/Legislative Council. Add minor parties influencing legislation and imagine how difficult it would be for, say, a Federal Government to try and repeal Federal legislation and gain State cooperation to do the same and wind back or abolish UN treaty/agreement based agenda.

      41

      • #
        Dennis

        To add to the above please note the pressure Australia was under (Prime Minister & Cabinet) at COP26 Glasgow from UN IPCC and even our major allies UK and US leaders to stop coal mining and exports and to increase UN Paris Agreement emissions reduction target and bring the target date back from 2030 to 2025. Our PM refused.

        And much the same with the demands for Australia to sign an Agreement to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The PM declined from signing that too and responded that Australia will have “an aspirational goal” based on development of new technology and without damaging the economy. The same policy applied to the Kyoto Agreement emissions target and to Paris, economy comes first.

        The UN is already treating retaliation, Great Barrier Reef health report and some other coral reefs marked down for UN reports of the reefs dying because of climate change. The threat is related to tourism as the GBR is a major attraction for foreign tourists visiting Queensland and spending tens of millions of dollars a year visiting Australia.

        There are various other threats used.

        51

  • #
    OldOzzie

    The Louisiana legislature is pushing forward with a windmill proposal that many locals have major concerns with.

    Local citizens are becoming aware of legislation in the works for offshore windmills in the state and they don’t like it.

    House Bill 165 is currently pending in the Louisiana legislature.

    HB 165 is a monstrosity.

    It would allocate up to 25,000 acres of Louisiana offshore waters to be leased from the State by private, green energy companies to manufacture and build windmill turbines as an alternative to coal and natural gas production. The first red flag in the bill is that it removes all legislative oversight and places plenary authority in the State Mineral and Energy Board to award any lease if it deems, in its sole discretion, that the lease is in Louisiana’s best interest. Why would the bill vest this enormous power in any board while removing traditional legislative oversight and accountability? Any objective observer would necessarily be suspicious of such a provision.

    The bill also removes the traditional requirement that a minimum dollar amount and minimum percentage of revenue to be produced be advertised by the board as a minimum requirement for granting the lease. No legislative oversight, and no requirement of minimal revenue creation. What could possibly go wrong here?

    Another fatal flaw with HB 165 is that neither Zeringue nor Orgeron has apparently studied the history of similar misguided efforts to supply energy needs through the use of offshore wind turbines. If they had, they would know that offshore wind power is not even remotely viable in reliably providing even a small percentage of our energy needs in a consistent, cost effective and environmentally sustainable manner.

    The article goes on to explain that other offshore windmills projects have not been very fruitful in producing energy. They have been failures. Projects in Rhode Island and Germany have been total failures. The costs are huge and the fact that the wind turbines must be replaced every 15-20 years.

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  • #
    OldOzzie

    From Sunday Open Thread – Relevant here as well

    LET’S DO IT FOR CIVILIANS, TOO: Pentagon to build nuclear microreactors to power far-flung bases.

    Pentagon to build nuclear microreactors to power far-flung bases

    Pentagon officials recently announced that the Defense Department will build a nuclear microreactor that can be flown to an austere site by a C-17 cargo plane and set up to power a military base.

    A statement released Wednesday by the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office announced the construction and testing decision that followed the office’s Environmental Impact Statement work for “Project Pele.”

    The project’s Program Manager, Dr. Jeff Waksman, told Military Times that the office expects to choose one of two designs submitted by BWXT Advanced Technologies, LLC, out of Lynchburg, Virginia, and X-energy, LLC, out of Greenbelt, Maryland, in the coming weeks.

    In the fiscal year 2020, the Pentagon budgeted $63 million for the project, followed by another $70 million in fiscal 2021. Project Pele reports have hailed the fourth-generation nuclear reactor as a “pathfinder” for commercial adoption of the technology.

    The moniker “Pele” refers not to the famous Brazilian soccer player but instead is a nod to the Hawaiian deity Pele, the [email protected] of fire and volcanos and mythological creator of the Hawaiian islands. But of course, there has to be an acronym and for this project it is Portable Energy for Lasting Effects.

    The plans call for a 40-ton reactor that can fit in three-to-four 20-foot shipping containers and, once set up, provide 1 to 5 Mega Watts of power on full power operation for up to three years before refueling.

    The microreactor will ultimately join a newer type of nuclear fuel being used in the program at the Idaho National Laboratory. Testing and experimentation will occur in 2024, with demonstrations anticipated by 2025, Waksman said.

    Members of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists also told Army Times in 2019 that they had major concerns that the Army’s own reporting on the design concept showed such a microreactor would “not be expected to survive a direct kinetic attack.”

    Waksman responded to that concern with a twofold answer to Army Times this week, saying that the microreactor will be used for austere locations, some of which were identified in the original 2018 Army G-4 report, “Study on the Use of Mobile Nuclear Power Plants for Ground Operations.”

    Those include places such as Fort Greely, Alaska, and Lajes Field, Azores.

    Second, Waksman said that both the newer designed reactor, a “high-temperature gas reactor,” and its fuel source, known as high-assay low enriched uranium tristructural isotropic fuel, provide more safety measures than older generation reactors and fuel.

    Long & Interesting Read

    30

  • #
    Tel

    The best policy option to control costs and minimise emissions would appear to be to replace coal generation with nuclear power.

    It comes out best … only if the parameters are cost and CO2 output. However, other long term issues such as safe decommissioning in 50 years, storage of waste material, and the general trust factor come into play. Not that I’m opposed to nuclear, but you can’t narrow it down to only two parameters. An additional problem in Australia is the danger of union activity, strikes, and possible “direct-action” protests … we don’t have reliable people to go with reliable energy generation.

    The other problem with nuclear, is that even though it does provide excellent base load power, it does not compensate for intermittent power generation because you cannot stop/start a nuclear reactor at short notice. It needs to run constantly. Large coal fired plants have similar issues … only agile generation such as gas turbines can compensate for intermittent solar and wind.

    Battery storage works very well for short term stop/start, if you don’t mind the high cost … although there are also long term issues there such as the batteries aging and needing to be replaced, recycled, etc.

    I’m confident that battery technology will get cheaper and more reliable over time … the stuff we are using in laptops and power tools today is vastly better than the nicads which were in use 20 years ago. That said, right now batteries are very expensive as compared with simple well-proven technology like coal and turbines.

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  • #
    Neville

    BTW the King Island energy meter is still showing their Diesel generator jumping up to 90%+ then falling to 60%+ and wind and solar a disaster as per usual.
    And never forget that a low wind night and ZERO solar means the Diesel takes over most of the time.
    And this FAILED EXPERIMENT is for just 1600 people and yet we’re expected to power our country with this idiocy after we elect the Albanese donkey and his KOOL-AID BELIEVERS.

    https://www.hydro.com.au/clean-energy/hybrid-energy-solutions/success-stories/king-island

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    • #
      Neville

      Just have to ask, why is solar energy so poor over King Island most of the time?
      Unless their online meter isn’t very accurate and is biased against solar? I know that’s very hard to believe under the circumstances.

      30

    • #
      David Maddison

      The following fantasy was written in 2013.

      How’d that work out for them?

      With a population of just under 2,000 and an area of just over 400 square miles, tiny King Island is becoming a big leader in electricity generation, demonstrating that a high-renewables future is possible.

      https://reneweconomy.com.au/in-depth-how-tiny-king-island-is-becoming-a-big-name-in-renewables-11331/

      60

      • #
        Ronin

        That reneweconomy are just the cheer squad for a failed technology, the stuff they write is a joke.

        40

    • #
      Dennis

      The polling at present 9% Greens want to go even further into economic vandalism and severely cutting government revenue streams that are of course used to pay for all the services Australians demand.

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      A great expose of the unreliability of weather dependent energy via King Island’s impressive power dashboard. At 2.30 pm on 18 April it records 95% or 1,500Kw delivered via its 2.5 Mw diesel generators with the remaining 5% delivering a miserable +/- 100Kw via very expensive wind and solar.

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      • #
        yarpos

        Istantaneous measurments aka cherry picking, dont really say much. Its just like how the “RE” fanboys claim success on the odd windy day in SA.

        Useful energy over time gives a truer picture. The AEMO web site speaks volumes when you select fuel use over a 12 month period for SA.

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        • #

          Useful energy over time gives a truer picture?

          At truer picture than at 2.30 pm on 18 April when RE was delivering 5% of King Island’s power needs.

          Reminds me of the man who drowned in a lake that had an average depth of only 6 inches.

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    Nezysquared

    Calling RickWill. RickWill… Is RickWill in the house?? Nothing to say Rick old chum??

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    Ross

    To think that once the CSIRO inspired me to go into science. Once were great independent science and technology producers. Now, just partisan hacks forever looking for funding. So, willing to say anything to just further the decrepit science / politics symbiosis. Tell the pollies what they think they want to hear , call it “science” and watch the funding dollars roll in. Should be broken up or sold off, just like the ABC.

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    Robert Swan

    Rafe,
    The centipede reference had me puzzled — your scorpion seems to have grown some extra legs!

    At first I thought you might be referring to this ditty warning against overthinking things.

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    OldOzzie

    Charging towards an EV future: how powerful is your postcode?

    Electric car ownership has become increasingly popular as Australians look for greener modes of transport, but the availability of charging stations will test the state’s ability to cope with the emerging technology.

    There is no definitive source for the location of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations but data from PlugShare.com shows there were 192 postcodes in Greater Sydney that did not have a public charging point by the start of 2022.

    EV charging stations can cost $150,000 to $1.2 million to build, Evie Networks CEO Chris Mills said, and as many people can’t easily charge at home, public, fast, reliable charging is needed, however outdated electricity tariffs are constraining the sector and creating higher costs.

    “Although our demand is remotely controllable and largely off-peak, charging providers continue to be slugged with outdated tariffs that are designed for factories, not charging stations,” Mr Mills said. “Australia can and should adopt an approach similar to that taken in North America, Europe and Asia, where specific EV tariffs have been designed.”

    NSW leads the country in funding EV infrastructure, but for charging station operators to have a viable business they need more cars to serve to make a profit.

    A NSW government spokeswoman said it had committed more than $500 million to EVs, and “more than double the amount of every other state, territory and the Commonwealth combined in EV charger infrastructure”.

    The NSW government is “working” to address tariff reforms and “continuing to investigate the best ways to update data collection”.

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    • #
      yarpos

      “Outdated” tarrif = we want cheaper or free stuff at other peoples expense.

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    • #

      When I see all of the Federal, State and Territory “Pollies” as well as the Public Serpents driving around in EVs then I will believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and that pigs can fly……………….

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    Robber

    Now that we have been “trained” to follow lockdown decrees, how long before energy rationing is mandated?
    Stay in your homes after dark, overseas travel only by wind-powered ships etc.

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    • #

      Nothing wrong with an Ocean going yacht (wind powered) apart from the price………………

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      Honk R Smith

      Bingo.

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        Honk R Smith

        Oh, except for the travel part.
        You think you’ll be allowed to travel … that’s cute.
        Unless you can get to Mexico, then you can cross into America unimpeded. They’ll give you a free cell phone and no vax required.
        Unless you have blue eyes.

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  • #

    I have been searching with DuckDuck to find www pages with Rafe Champions articles and info like downloadable pdf’s. So far all I have found have security issues making them inacessible. Hence my question. Please post a www address where Rafes articles can be read and his pdf’s downloaded.
    Thanks

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  • #
    ozfred

    Chemistry shows reactions happen.
    Process engineering says those reactions take time and sometimes have side effects.
    There are too many scientists wanting changes and not enough engineers explaining there needs to be a process to get from here/now to there/then.
    1. If you own a house, you are a financial idiot if you do not have PV panels on your roof and if installing new, allowing for the addition of batteries (sometime). But Australian standards on the installations do keep changing.
    2. Coal generated electricity creates more CO2 and particulate pollution than natural gas generated electricity. WA seems to have planned that better than the NEM. And has better wind resources.
    3. Maybe the small nuclear reactors will be price competitive in 10 years. In that time frame, technologies (or disasters) currently unknown may have changed the entire economic framework.
    4. Consider the limited source of (inexpensive) components for the supply of electricity. This includes PV panels, wind generators, distribution network transformers (as well as the HV cables).
    What would the cost of electricity be if everything had to be sourced in Australia?

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      Graeme No.3

      The cost would depend on the price of diesel fuel.
      Seriously, you might include dual fuelled diesel as used in SA. Startup on diesel and when hot switch to natural gas.
      Advantages the reliability of (strongly built) diesels against high maintenance open cycle turbines.
      A commercial decision (obviously by a private company as no government in SA has worried about cost for 30+years).

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      Ross

      No2. Who cares if Coal produces more CO2? Australia’s emissions are about 1% of total world emissions and decreasing every year. The southern hemisphere is a sink for CO2. Australian biosphere consumes 15 x times the amount of CO2 that this country produces anyway. CO2 in this country is irrelevant even before you get to the discussion about CO2’s effect on climate.

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    Dennis

    ON TOPIC

    The Australian today, Business Review, contained a very interesting article: AGL, Snowy Hydro question grid plan.

    AGL Energy and Snowy Hydro have questioned a blueprint for the electricity grid, arguing the assumptions used to model fast coal plant retirements and critical transmission projects may result in higher costs, project delays and increased risk of blackouts.

    A plan released in December by The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) found coal was set to be removed from Australia’s electricity system up to a decade earlier than planned, exiting three times faster than expected, with a ninefold increase in wind and solar capacity needed by 2050 to meet net zero emissions.

    Both of the power giants have raised issue with the methodology used for AEMO’s draft integrated system plan. AGL said the favoured “step-change” scenario based its coal retirement assumptions on meeting long terms carbon constraints, which did not currently exist, rather than actual market conditions such as generator revenues.”

    …… and more. I am not a subscriber so cannot link you to the article that I read today from a print copy of the newspaper.

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      Graeme No.3

      Dennis:
      In part
      AGL, Snowy Hydro question grid plan
      Perry Williams 6:03PM April 17, 2022

      AGL Energy and Snowy Hydro have questioned a blueprint for the electricity grid, arguing the assumptions used to model fast coal plant retirements and critical transmission projects may result in higher costs, project delays and an increased risk of blackouts.
      A plan released in December by the Australian Energy Market Operator found coal was set to be removed from Australia’s electricity system up to a decade earlier than planned, ­exiting three times faster than ­expected, with a ninefold increase in wind and solar capacity needed by 2050 to meet net zero targets.
      Both of the power giants have raised issues with the methodology used for AEMO’s draft integrated system plan. AGL said the favoured “step-change” scenario based its coal retirement assumptions on meeting long-term carbon constraints, which did not currently exist, rather than actual market conditions such as generator revenues.
      While “policies and other drivers to support the energy transition will strengthen in the future, the existing structure of the energy market and policies in the sector do not currently support the rapid closure of assets and rapid build-out of sub-economic transmission and new generation projects,” AGL’s head of policy and market regulation, Elizabeth Molyneux, said in a submission into the inputs and assumptions AEMO used for its integrated system plan. “We do not agree with assigning relatively strong weightings to planning scenarios that present sub-economic outcomes in the short-term without a clear policy direction from the government to that effect.”
      Coal, which provides up to 70 per cent of current electricity capacity, could be entirely removed as early as 2040 under AEMO’s plan. The Australian Energy Regulator reviewed the draft plan and said while most of AEMO’s inputs and assumptions were adequate, the assumptions underpinning several aspects such as coal plant retirements and transmission projects needed a more thorough explanation.
      Snowy Hydro has also doubled down on an earlier attack over AEMO’s plan, warning a failure to prioritise crucial investment in new electricity transmission could trigger higher power prices, blackouts and dangerous system instability.

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    OldOzzie

    Electricity outages drive up east coast gas prices

    East coast gas prices are surging to the worry of manufacturers, but fresh analysis shows the cause is the shutdown of coal power generation units in the domestic market rather than a pull from soaring international prices.

    Prices along the eastern seaboard rose in March to more than $10 a gigajoule and spiked further in early April, accompanied by a big jump in wholesale electricity prices in Queensland and NSW, according to consultancy EnergyQuest.

    But an increase in gas exported as LNG to Asia does not appear to be the reason, the firm said, finding that LNG shipments from Gladstone, the only gas export port on the east coast, dipped in March and April despite strong international gas prices.

    Indeed, LNG imports into North Asia have slumped as high prices destroy demand and as COVID-19 shutdowns reduce consumption in China. Imports by Japan, China and Korea, some of the world’s biggest consumers of LNG, fell 17.7 per cent in February, the most recent month with comprehensive data for imports, EnergyQuest noted.

    Average spot gas prices rose in March in Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Victoria, EnergyQuest noted, with prices reaching north of $11/GJ in some states. Spikes early this month then resulted in prices averaging almost $17.50/GJ in the first half of April in Brisbane, and about $16/GJ in Sydney and Adelaide.

    On Saturday, April 16, on a holiday weekend amid reduced industrial demand, gas prices were almost $14/GJ in Brisbane and Sydney, and about $15.50/GJ in Adelaide.

    The strong prices are hurting those industrial users of gas on the east coast that rely on the spot market for purchases rather than locking in a contract with a retailer. Some are quietly blaming the increase on power generators curtailing some capacity to drive up wholesale prices for other units, allowing more leeway for gas to be used in electricity generation.

    ‘There’s no reason for prices to be this high’

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      Robber

      In the NEM, in June last year gas generated 1805 GWhr of electricity. In March this year, gas delivered 1056 GWhr, and April prorated gives 988 GWhr.
      Wholesale electricity prices have soared in April with Qld $211, NSW $192, Vic $124, compared to March $147, $101, and $55 !!
      Of course solar is in decline as winter approaches.
      And on an annual basis, Qld has jumped from $62 in 2020/21 to $127 in 2021/22. What is going on?

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      Dennis

      It does annoy me that Australia has among the largest known reserves of energy apart from coal, uranium, thorium, salts, shale oil deposits, natural gas onshore and offshore and most locked away from exploitation by politicians, our elected representatives elected to look after our best interests which must include our common wealth of realisable assets of minerals and energy deposits.

      Transportation fuels from coal and shale oil, LPG and CNG.

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    Rafe Champion

    Start here wazz. https://www.riteon.org.au/netzero-casualties/

    And I will send more.

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    Ronin

    I can see the day when our UN obsessed govts have delivered us a Lada Samara electricity grid, and then offer taxpayer funds to companies to set up their own standby generation.

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    Graeme#4

    I generated some energy source comparison figures, using different energy sources as a basis for the comparisons.
    These calculations were done over the expected longest lifetime, which I assumed was 80 years for nuclear.
    Firstly, using USC coal as a base and without backup:
    USC coal: 1.0
    CCGT Gas: 0.86
    Wind: 2.02
    Large scale solar: 2.75
    Nuclear SMR: 1.16

    If we now add the backup required for wind and solar, coal, gas and nuclear figures remain the same, but wind and solar figures increase:
    Wind: 2.57
    Large scale solar: 3.10

    50

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    Geoff Sherrington

    Rafe,

    Thank you for this much needed essay. The cost differences for various mixes of electricity generation need to be known.
    AEMO justifies leaving out backup costs on the grounds that government policy is to aim for net zero carbon emissions by 2050. They seem to think that this prevents them from doing the analysis that applies to the real world. They are still pushing that wind/solar/renewables penetration of 75% (or more) can be achieved by Australia, while failing to note that no country has ever got anywhere near this, despite desperate tries by Germany, for example, with their Energiewende.
    One would think that AEMO should warn the government of the gross failure of the Energiewende and warn that Australia faces a similar failure if we follow the AEMO recommended course. It has the potential to wreck Australia for decades. (And make it more susceptible to invasion). Geoff S

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    Ronin

    Flinders Island RE power, diesel 98%, solar 2%, no wind , no battery, no sun in about 2 hours time.

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    OldOzzie

    Israel to top up shrinking Sea of Galilee with desalinated water

    Israel, a leader in making seawater drinkable, plans to pump excess output from its desalination plants into the Sea of Galilee, depleted by overuse and threatened by climate change.

    Irregular rainfall, rising temperatures and intensive pumping have overtaxed the world’s lowest freshwater lake, which for decades has served as the Jewish state’s main sweetwater reservoir.

    Israel now plans to tackle the challenge by reversing the water flow through its vast network of pumps, pipes and tunnels dating to the 1960s, the National Water Carrier.

    Authorities hail the project as a showcase for Israel’s cutting-edge desalination and water management technology, which can also help deepen ties with arid Arab states.

    Critics charge that Israel has long short-changed Palestinians out of their fair share of water, leaving much of the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip facing severe water stress.

    And environmentalists note that the more Israel relies on fossil fuels to power its desalination plants, the more its carbon emissions will worsen climate change.

    About an hour’s drive away on the Mediterranean coast, David Muhlgay poured himself a glass of water made by the Hadera Desalination Plant, one of five in Israel.

    “Israel has gone from water as a scarce product to an abundance of water in 15 years, which is phenomenal,” said Muhlgay, CEO of OMIS Water Ltd.

    His plant produces 137 million cubic metres a year—16 percent of Israel’s drinking water supply—with the capacity to produce 160 million cubic metres.

    “We are ready to go” and connect to the new system, he said.

    The seaside plant sits beside the coal and gas-fired plant that powers it, underscoring the contradictions in adapting to the climate crisis through energy-intensive desalination.

    “Electricity needs to be sourced,” Muhlgay said, arguing that for now only fossil fuels can do the job.

    “It cannot only rely, for the moment, on renewable sources.”

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    Ronin

    The present fleet of wind/solar has been been built by generous taxpayer subsidies, will those subsidies still be in place in 10-25 years time when todays plant is worn out and has to be replaced, has this been calculated as a levelised system cost when proclaiming S&W is cheap, this is in addition to firming costs.

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    Philip

    Well it’s clear coal is the cheapest. We have a small population, this is good environmentally. So we should burn coal to make power. Simple stuff.

    If you own a cabin in the woods, you’re not going to build a windmill to power an electric heater. You will make a fire of course. Australia is a cabin in the woods. I dont want nuclear, it’s more expensive and we don’t need it. When we run out of coal, sure.

    There is no need for Australia to lower any emissions. We believe in low population, and having a night around a log fire.

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    • #
      Geoff Sherrington

      Philip,
      How can coal be cheaper than uclear?
      Once steam is produced for turbines, the two methods work on the same back-end principles.
      At the front end, the cost of coal is a significant factor. For nuclear, the fuel cost is minor.
      On this basis, nuclear would cost less than coal.
      Nuclear radiation has caused fewer than 100 losses of human life globally since it began. Coal mining is now causing around 15,000 deaths a year. Factor that into your comparison.
      Geoff S

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      • #
        Graeme#4

        Gas is cheaper, BUT you have to be purchasing your gas using a domestic reservation policy. I believe that the wholesale cost of gas in WA is half that of most other states.

        30

      • #

        Geoff, the “cost” of coal is not great to an Aussie power plant, . They do not pay the market rate, only the mining and delivery cost (~10_30 $/ton)
        With Nuclear, there is a much higher initial capital cost to amortise, together with a not insignificant cost to the fuel rods production and disposal.
        The EIA site details most of the cost factors in comparing LCOE.

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        Kalm Keith

        Geoff, coal is cheaper than nuclear at the moment.
        All factors need to be considered.

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    Ronin

    If Flinders Island in Bass Strait didn’t have those wonderful diesel powered generators, tonight the residents would be eating dinner by candlelight, cooked on a gas or wood stove.

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    Graeme#4

    Looking at the Comprehensive Model, it’s not clear how the LCOE figures were calculated. Surely not from the CSIRO report? That would immediately invalidate the LCOE figures and the final cost calculations.

    10

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      Rafe+Champion

      Graeme, here is a critique of the CSIRO analysis. Deeply flawed. https://www.riteon.org.au/netzero-casualties/#211

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      • #
        Graeme#4

        Yes, I realise that the CSIRO LCOE data is deeply flawed, as is the Lazard LCOE data. But this still doesn’t answer my query – where do the LCOE figures come from in the Comprehensive Model?

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          Rafe+Champion

          You will have to read the assumptions and sources of cost data in their description of the methods they used. That may not be a complete answer because it begs the question of the source of the data used by their source, like the AEMO 2018 plan and their overseas tour to cost nuclear power.

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    Philip

    Excellent article. Very informative.

    I must confess I have had hopes of hydrogen cars in the past.

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    TimiBoy

    What assumptions are being made regarding the exposure of renewables and their transmission lines to fire, flood or wind?

    00